Black Internship Programme 2022

For the second year running, the NIHR BioResource is delighted to welcome two interns to work with us this summer as we continue our support for the initiative that helps transform the prospects of, and provide opportunities for, early career Black people in the UK to flourish in their future health data science careers.

Run by Health Data Research UK  (HDR UK) and the UK Health Data Research Alliance (the ‘Alliance’) in partnership with the 10,000 Black Interns initiative, the Health Data Science Black Internship Programme continues its exciting endeavour for early career Black data scientists who are currently heavily under-represented within the health data science world.

Launched for this year on 1st July, the paid internship programme offers a high-quality, eight-week internship at one of HDR UK's host organisations, with the BioResource proud to be participating once again. The programme provides interns the opportunity to not only learn about health data science in action, but also to carry out their own clearly defined research projects. Interns will also be offered wider collaboration and networking as part of the programme.

Welcoming our 2022 interns

Building on the successful intake we had last year, we are pleased to introduce this year's interns: Chrysie Alexiou and Nebangwa Derrick. Both are students at King's College London (KCL), with Chrysie having just finished her second year studying Psychology and Neuroscience and Neba specialising in biomedical research in drug discovery for his PhD.

They will both be working on a variety of BioResource projects to help broaden their expertise and exposure to different data challenges. One such project is the development and launch of the new BioResource Portal. The Portal is being built to allow our 200,000 plus volunteer participants to see where their samples and data have been used in health research studies. The project represents a complex data handling and transfer task to securely and accurately display such information on each volunteer's personalised dashboard.

Side by side headshots of Chrysie Alexiou and Neba Derrick
2022 BioResource interns: Chrysie (left) and Neba (right)

Chrysie and Neba will be developing ideas for how we can further personalise the portal in later phases of the roll-out to help improve participant engagement and retention. This may include methods of tailoring each participant’s view by location, activity and clinical features, to show and recommend local research opportunities advertised on other networks, such as the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)-run Be Part Of Research site. 

How did our new interns hear about the programme?

Chrysie is a member of the KCL's African Caribbean Society, through which the information was shared, and saw it as a great opportunity to improve her data handling skills, an area that she had been introduced to via computing/coding modules in her course.

Chrysie said:

"I think the Black Intern Programme is especially important because it allows Black people to have access to spaces where we can ensure our voices and lived experiences can influence one of the largest societal institutions of healthcare and research.

"Having the unique insight that comes with the lived experience of being Black means we’re able to give ideas and opinions that wouldn’t have crossed the minds of people who aren’t Black."
Collage of photos of Black interns in 2022 Black Internship Programme

Neba first gained an insight into high-quality research in his Master's degree and subsequently became interested in finding an internship in clinical analysis to complement his research interests in drug development, specifically in conducting early phase human trials to address safety and efficacy concerns of new therapeutic molecules. He was delighted to discover the Black Internship Programme and felt that it was an ideal fit for him.

Aside from his academic and career aspirations, Neba explained that:

“Having studied in Africa (Cameroon), I have witnessed first-hand some of the draw backs due to shortage of expertise in health data science and analytics."

At the BioResource, we understand how important it is to make sure expertise and knowledge is transferred and shared internationally so that a global perspective can be included in health research. We hope that by improving diversity within the UK health research industry - via initiatives such as the Black Internship Programme - we move a step in the right direction towards health equality that can reach beyond the UK.

Neba added:

“This a key driving force behind my motivation for data science, but also does overlap significantly to the objectives of the HDR UK’s 10,000 Black Interns Programme as training me, for instance, may in turn train 10,000 more Africans in data science in the future.”

The importance of the HDR UK Black Internship Programme

The aim is to not only to continue to tackle the underrepresentation of Black people within the health data science sector, but to also provide motivated candidates with the experience they need to kick-start their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

If you are interested in learning more about the HDR UK Black Internship Programme, including how to participate as a host or apply as an intern next year, please visit the HDR UK and the 10,000 Black Interns websites.